Facing backlash, foreign powers try to speed Afghanistan exodus

KABUL: Foreign powers sought to increase evacuations from Afghanistan on Friday after reports of Taliban reprisals, including against people...

KABUL: Foreign powers sought to increase evacuations from Afghanistan on Friday after reports of Taliban reprisals, including against people who had worked with U.S.-led forces or the previous Western-backed government.

More than 18,000 people have been flown out since the militants took the capital Kabul, according to transatlantic alliance NATO, but Western governments are facing criticism for not anticipating such a speedy exodus or helping enough.

Thousands still thronged the airport where gun-toting Taliban members urged people without travel documents to go home. Some have fled gunfire in recent days.

"As of today, those who may be in danger have no clear way out," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said, urging neighbouring countries to keep borders open. read more

The speed with which the Islamist group conquered Afghanistan as foreign troops were withdrawing surprised even their own leaders and left power vacuums.

The Taliban called for unity ahead of Friday prayers, asking imams to persuade people not to leave. Residents in Kabul and four other major cities said prayers appeared to have passed off without incident, though attendance was low.

However, a German civilian was wounded by a gunshot on the way to the airport before being evacuated, a German government spokesman said. And German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Taliban fighters killed a member of the family of one of its reporters and badly wounded another in house-to-house searches.

Some Afghans have reported being beaten and having their homes raided, while others say they have received reassurances of safety. Taliban spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.

A witness said several people were killed in the eastern city of Asadabad on Thursday when militants fired on a protest. The Taliban want to establish an "emirate" governed by strict Islamic law.

There were similar shows of defiance in two other eastern cities - Jalalabad and Khost - coinciding with celebrations of the nation's 1919 independence from British control.

In and around Kabul airport, 12 people have been killed since Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.

Washington has about 5,800 soldiers controlling the airport, a U.S. official said.

The United States was "laser-focused" on "the potential for a terrorist attack" by a group such as Islamic State during the evacuation, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview with NBC News.

-News Feed




Local Glob: Facing backlash, foreign powers try to speed Afghanistan exodus
Facing backlash, foreign powers try to speed Afghanistan exodus
Local Glob
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